Robots and Fear

We’re experts on industrial robots, specifically Indramat motion control systems. Because of that, we try to stay current on news in the field of robotics. New applications for servo motors, how things are going in the industrial motion control industry, advancements in robotics, and things of that nature.

If you try to stay current on robotics news, you’ve probably noticed a trend. People seem to be pretty scared of robots.

It can be interesting to look at the words people use when talking about robots – invading, taking over, killer, eliminate, replace, threaten, the rise of, etc. These are just a few of the words and phrases that are often used in headlines about robots.

The vocabulary that people use when talking or writing about robots is often emotionally charged, and some of those words carry negative connotations.

That’s not to say that it’s wrong to use those scary words in the context of robots. Sometimes a word like “replace” is the most accurate word when talking about automation.

Recently, in an article about an artificial nervous system, someone criticized a writer in the comment section for suggesting that robots could “feel pain”.

Was the author trying to work people into a frenzy at the idea that robots could feel pain? Perhaps. Was he trying to communicate a technical concept in a way that would be accessible to people who are not experts in robotics? Perhaps.

Other times those words are intentionally used to have a certain effect on the audience. Words like “eliminate” and “invasion” make headlines that grab your attention, and they might even make a conversation more entertaining. Maybe someone is banking on an association with Science Fiction flicks and stories about angry and unstoppable robots to create a certain feeling.

However, this charged vocabulary may also reflect genuine concern and a fear of technology among some people.

Sometimes this fear of robots seems irrational. Like those who are afraid of fictional robots. You know, the ones that look like Californian governors who travel through time to kill people, or the ones that flip the script and turn against their squishy and oppressive human overlords.

Then there’s a more realistic fear of robots by those who recognize the value and potential of automation. These people are concerned that humans won’t be able to keep up with the abilities of automation, and that mass unemployment becomes more of a possibility every day.

We can’t really speak on the likelihood of artificially intelligent robots “rising up” against mankind, but it doesn’t seem very likely. We can, however, attest to the benefits of automation. Industrial robots have been making life safer and easier for humans for over half a century. If you run an Indramat motion control system, you know this first hand as well.